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Using Your Digital Camera as a Light Meter


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#1 Peter Gilabert

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Posted 14 April 2016 - 11:52 AM

I hear this can be done since I'm too cheap to buy a proper light meter to shoot stuff on my CP-16R.

The idea is to go ahead and take the reading digitally (since I'm already shooting that way too as a back-up) with my Canon 60d then maybe open up a half or full stop to account for an old zoom lens then shoot.
Any thoughts on why this might not work or might be fine?
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#2 Giray Izcan

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Posted 14 April 2016 - 12:46 PM

Pick up a spectra p251 for 50-100 :)
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#3 David Mullen ASC

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Posted 14 April 2016 - 08:18 PM

It might work if you are reasonably sure that your exposures on the Canon, assuming you match the shutter speed and ASA rating of the film camera, or compensate for the difference, match the results you are getting with your film negative.  But without a light meter to even test how your Canon exposes compared to that, and how to then set the brightness of your screen on the Canon to get a decent representation, plus how to set up the contrast of the Canon image, well, you'd be guessing until you got your first day's footage transferred.

 

I've been shooting something on 35mm film lately and have a Sony NEX6 set-up to the same shutter speed and ASA rating of the stock to see how the f-stop I choose based on my meter reading matches.  And the film transfers have matched reasonably well to my digital stills once I picked a somewhat muted contrast setting for my Sony still camera.  But to some degree, all this works partly because of the wide latitude of film negative.


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#4 Peter Gilabert

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Posted 15 April 2016 - 08:58 AM

Thanks for the replies.
It now seems obvious that the cost of guessing based on all these factors for the first amount of film I'd see is about the cost of a light meter.
Now hopefully I'll be able to factor in the 1/55 shutter speed...
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#5 Chris D Walker

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Posted 15 April 2016 - 03:20 PM

By chance I've written and just published an article about this very subject:

 

Reading Light - Tradition and Modern Tools

 

But I'd say the same as the other responses you've gotten here. Use a light meter, test your camera and your film stock.


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#6 Antonio Bunt

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Posted 17 April 2016 - 12:11 AM

Hello, if I can put my two-cents on this thread, I used an Elmo 1012 Super 8 camera but I mesured the light with a Canon T3i. The results were great because I had in mind the differences with the shutter and the actual lighting scheme I was using. 

Bear in mind it is cumbersome to carry around a digital SLR AND a Super 8.


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#7 Ari Michael Leeds

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Posted 17 April 2016 - 03:24 PM

I've seen more than a few DPs use this approach (though I like numbers and meters and experience, myself, knowing the range of what I'm working with), but it's also been done in the Polaroid era with Kubrick, so there's definitely something to it, if you have your system locked down.

"Cumbersone."  Compared to a Super 8, sure.  But compared to any of thte other equipment, the smallest light you are carrying around, it's a strap over your shoulder.  Compared to women carrying purses, ACs always carrying their equipment belt, is cumbersome really a fair description of a tiny camera?


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